Category Archives: personal

An Orchid Kind of Love

It was so easy in the beginning
When you didn’t feel like running from your feelings like you are now
What happened? What do I remind you of?
Your past, your dreams
Or some part of yourself that you just can’t love?
Madonna – Waiting

Orchid

I finally had the moment of silence I was craving all weekend.

Surrounded by evergreens and vegetation, I found the peace that evaded me on this trip in New England. A wedding invitation prompted me to reach out again and here I was visiting him for the first time. Only things were different…much different.

We were fighting about everything; breakfast, leaving hickeys in the wrong places, going to the gayborhood…it was never this bad when he came to visit me in New York. It was like I was dealing with a different person.

And for the first time I realized I represented White gay values in his life, which was a mindfuck in itself. Men of color often talk about having to “choose” between their culture and their sexuality, but how that plays out in lived experience is so nuanced and heavy.

Nothing screams “I get fucked in the butt” like bringing a 6’1” Black man to a Pacific Islander barbeque.

And I felt terrible: I could see the conflicting messages in his brothers’ minds. The wheels were turning at fever pace, it was a lot to process…even for me. They could sense the love and affection, but instinctually wanted to defend their brother’s masculinity honor. What do you say do when someone says, “You guys make a cute couple,” then follows it up with a homophobic butt sex joke? Thank God the microaggressions from the White people at work allowed me to perfect my John Cage smile.

Did I mention there were hickeys in visible places? ::sigh::

Despite all the craziness, I was having a good time. It was nice to meet everyone I heard so much about the last two years. I also got to see this family garden he was so proud of. We managed to slip out of the barbeque for a minute to pick up some plants. It was a tall order; the garden was a nice size plot and he was trying to coordinate color, seasonality and upkeep. He didn’t find what he wanted at the outdoor nursery so we made our way to Lowe’s. While he chatted up an employee I found myself in the exotic plants section.

“Why don’t you get one of these!”

“Orchids are stupid,” he shot back. “They’re so fussy and take too much time and energy to keep alive.”

I didn’t have the courage to tell him orchids were my favorite flowers.

We ran back to the barbeque for a minute to drop off the goods, but it was time for me to say goodbye. On the way to the bus station, we were fighting again about nothing. He stopped yelling for a minute as he realized I would soon be gone.

“So what did you think? Was everyone nice to you?”

“You have a beautiful family. I would choose them over a relationship too.”

Two years of this and he was rarely speechless. I think he knew there was no sarcasm laced in the statement and didn’t know how to react.

On the bus ride back to New York, I realized there was prior botany foreshadowing that I missed. The first time he came to my new apartment I sent him out for breakfast and he came back with a gift.

“What is that?”
“It’s a Desert Plant. You need something living in this place.”

It was meager and sorry looking. He could tell I wasn’t impressed and tried to sell it some more.

“You know how most people kill their plants? They overwater them.”

While the statement is true, I would still advocate for the orchid. It needs the right light, is very sensitive to temperature, etc. But I like the challenge of nurturing it. The payoff is worth it, they’re absolutely beautiful, especially the purple varieties (my favorite color).

It was in that moment on the bus I realized we were fighting for two very different types of love. He preferred the kind with low responsibility, low upkeep (emotional and otherwise). Like an oasis in the desert, he knew how to find me when he needed dick to get away and could then return to his journey.

Me, I want an orchid kind of love; a relationship where my partner would be sensitive to my needs and make sacrifices knowing we would eventually blossom together and create something beautiful. Historically the orchid has been a symbol of love, luxury and beauty. Adapting for millions of years, it continues to thrive today.

I still believe in love. The resilient kind that takes hard work in service of something bigger.

And deep down, I still believe I will find it.

Revenge of the Black Nerds

Urkelblacknerd

Thinking about it a bit further, I recognized that part of why I don’t own my intellect, personality and talents as much as I should is because I don’t want to appear or be, for that matter, arrogant or elitist.
(Will) Evolution of a Man – Smarter Than The Average Bear

A year ago, Gary called me a snob Gary and I had a discussion about me coming off as a snob. It’s a word I rarely get called, so I wanted to sit with the implications for a while and reflect on what he could be picking up on. I’d like to address both his points:

my “fancy Apple products”
I was using Macs long before they were cool. Back in my journalism days, Apple products were the go to hardware for designers. We had to use Quark in high school to format the newspaper. Increasingly frustrated with the PCs in my personal life, I eventually switched over my personal computer when the original iMac debuted. I haven’t looked back since. And the belief that Apple products are more expensive is just a myth. In fact, I usually make a profit off my Apple gear (I just upgraded to an iPhone 5 for a net of $80. Ask about it). Technology that works makes me more productive. That’s what it’s there for, right?

my “high profile occupation”
Unlike Will, modesty and tact have never been my strengths. In fact, if there’s anything I’m elitist about it’s my intellect and education.

I’m fucking brilliant.

God gave us all different gifts and I just happen to get highly advanced reasoning skills.

When I returned from San Francisco in 2009, I thought to myself, “I want a pretty low key job at a powerful organization until I figure out this whole nonprofit thing. But I want to make over 40K because I’d like to keep my standard of living.”

And that’s exactly what I got.

I was the first one of my cohort to get a relevant job too. Not because I’m special, because I was smart enough to apply for jobs long before graduation.

The Brain and I were just talking about my ability to hack the system and I feel bad at times, but honestly, I don’t know how to be any other way. I don’t think I’m better than anyone else, but needless to say adaptability is one of the best skills you can have in life, especially for a gay man of color.

If you’re a queer black/brown boy reading this, here’s a trick:
there’s not many self help books made for/by us, but there are tons with White women as the target audience. And White women usually get what they want, so this privileged “minority” group is a good one to extract certain lessons from. Black women are harder to mimic because Black men usually come off as more intimidating and that’s another dynamic to navigate.

Case in point: the person I would thank the most for this “high profile occupation?” Cathie Black. I always admired her…especially back when I wanted to be editor in chief of a major magazine. I remembered how informative her Oprah episode was and bought her book Basic Black: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life). While reading, I replaced every instance of “woman” with “nigger” and I had a job within three months. I heard people think she’s an asshole. I get that. I’m not much of a people person myself.

Three years later, I’m going to head HIV planning in NYC next year: the largest jurisdiction in the country. That’s pretty badass. As my mother would say, if no one’s proud of me, I’m proud of me.

Tim Ferriss
Seth Godin
Marco Arment

Also people you should familiarize yourself with. I’m going to talk more about mentorship/role models soon, but my point is in this information age, the answers you seek are already out there, you just have to know how to ask the right questions.

And don’t get me started on this whole “nerd” renaissance. It’s rather disturbing to me actually. It goes to show how valuable a nice body is with gay men that in the age of shirtless Adonis’ on Instagram, people feel the need to wear glasses to distinguish themselves from the pack.

Child boo. You have on glasses, you’re not a nerd. If you were I wouldn’t have to fix your computer for you. Ugh.

Speaking of which, I try not to judge, but when I see a young man of color talk so much about the gym I can’t help but cringe.

Don’t you get it, beauty is fleeting! Go read a book…and not a book about creatine you asshat! It will help tremendously when you’re in your thirties.

I was watching a segment on Don’t Sleep the other night on the war zone Chicago has become and Blacks still relying on sports and entertainment to get out of the hood. The panel kept harping on how education was the key and I thought, “It’s almost 2013, did we not get that message yet?”

As the United States gets Blacker/Browner, the smart people of color will become even more powerful than we already are. Especially when it comes to media:

Shonda Rhimes
Issa Rae
Melissa Harris-Perry

All role models in my head as I embark on the next phase of my career.

And then there’s the interaction of New York City. As the saying goes, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. Growing up in New York certainly hasn’t hurt my hustle.

If there’s anything I try to watch, it’s this pride in my intellect turning into classism. There’s got to me a middle ground where Black nerds can celebrate our accomplishments and not be called names like “snobs.” Will should be able to mention he worked at Google and went to an Ivy league school without being shamed by his peers.

I too find I often have to keep quiet about certain things.

I barely mentioned my promotion last year.
I’m reluctant to admit I got an even bigger promotion this year.
I’m afraid to post that picture with that former Surgeon General who felt compelled to personally congratulate me after I got that award.
I bought a timeshare; it was important to own property before I turned thirty. I wish I could talk about that more without having to explain my finances when people assume I must be a flight attendant for traveling so well.

I’m not asking for you to be a genius or something — just be more than average. Show me something. Introduce me to something new. Do more than the regular basic shit that you know.
Karsh Writes – Embracing Snobriety

And don’t get me started on food. If there’s any part of the country with a ton of food snobs, it’s the Bay Area. I was fine with chicken nuggets and fries before Asian frat upgraded my palette. And Karsh got me watching Top Chef. There’s no going back now.

I suppose I should explore how all this impacts dating in another post.

So yes, if being proud of my accomplishments as a youngish black man is considered snobbery these days, I guess I’m a snob.

At the end of the day I truly believe luck is simply what happens when preparation meets opportunity. And as people of color we need to get better at creating our own opportunities for advancement. It’s not like racism/sexism/homophobia/etc. is going away any time soon. Power is never given, you have to take it.

Stick around, you may learn something.

For Brandon, For Shelton

BrandonShelton

I live
because today
I looked in the mirror
and I didn’t see a lie
Brandon Lacy Campos – I Live

I was on a road trip and out of the loop this weekend, so when I awoke on Saturday and heard of the passing of Brandon Lacy Campos, I thought I was dreaming. “Surely that must be a mistake, he just tweeted me yesterday.”

Unfortunately it was true and he is gone. All this week I’ve been staring at my mentions…if I’m understanding the timing correctly he was dead less than 24 hours after he tweeted me. It’s eerie to think I could’ve been one of the last people he had contact with (virtual or otherwise).

Despite having tons of friends in common, I never met Brandon in person. But he’s been a friend in my head forever. I read his blog for years, our paths just never crossed physically (this happens often in NYC). I realized he was on Twitter a few months ago when he left Queers for Economic Justice and started following him more closely than I had recently. I always found him to be a cutie and was happy to see him take pride in his fitness and was excited for the new love in his life. I was supposed to see him read some of his poetry in the Spring, but couldn’t make it last minute.

A few weeks ago he updated me on his gogo boy audition, which he didn’t have to do. He didn’t know me nor owe me anything. But I asked to been kept up to date and that’s who Brandon was; a sincere, giving and loving guy. They don’t make them like him anymore.

Ironically, this isn’t the first time this has happened. Back in 2005, I had my first openly HIV positive friend. I was so excited! Having started my career in HIV prevention I felt it crucial to have someone with lived experience to help me understand the disease. This friend was part of a tour called Hope’s Voice and through him I got to meet some more amazing people. But one always eluded me: Shelton Jackson.

I was fascinated by Shelton’s story; he got infected on purpose essentially to bond with his then positive partner (who ended up dying four years later). I wanted so much to sit down with Shelton and talk. I was also a fan of his blog/writing, but didn’t find all the answers I sought. I wanted to know a love so strong I would make a similar sacrifice. I needed him to teach me how to find it.

But our paths would never cross (physically). Then in early 2009, when I was in San Francisco in the last semester in my Master’s program, our mutual friend called from the East Coast. He was visting Shelton, who was sick in the hospital. Many of the people I met over the years were also there. It sounded like a big party.

“Tell him I hope he feels better and that I love his blog! I need a new poem soon.”

The next day he was dead.

I was just complaining to said friend it was nearly impossible to get one of Shelton’s books today and begged him to give me his copies to reread. Every time this happens, I get really upset not just for obvious reasons, but I feel we lose so much black/brown gay (boy) history like this.

And I don’t want to speculate on the cause of Brandon’s death, I just think it’s bullshit when we say the cause of death is unclear.

I’m not good with death, but given recent events I feel like God is preparing me for something big.

So for Brandon, for Shelton
For Erik Rhodes
Maurice Murrell
Kyle Spidle
And everyone else we’ve lost in the struggle

I light this candle. To remember the lessons I’ve learned doing this work and to honor my teachers far and near. For it is our humanity that connects us. We can all use help along the way and I am forever grateful.

As I continue to live my truth.

The Almost Date Raped Story

Billybuffy

About eight years ago, in the midst of a threesome gone wrong, my first “boyfriend” attempted to rape me in his bedroom. I’m saving all the gory details for my memoirs, so here’s the abridged version.

Honestly it pretty much went down like that scene in Higher Learning: we were just talking and fooling around on the bed and all of a sudden hands went where they shouldn’t have and chaos ensued.

I should back up and contextualize the situation.

I was young, dumb, and full of his cum: Primero that is. I lost my virginity to this man, I loved him.

Primero was your stereotypical Mexican: brown skin, short and stocky…the speak softly, but carry a big stick type. He had jet black hair and piercing brown eyes…a few tattoos for spice. Primero was twelve years my senior and had that man’s man way about him.

Being sexually socialized by a straight identified man is an interesting experience. There’s a lot of non-verbal communication, but not a lot of debriefing. One particular weekend I was over his house for a BBQ and we went inside for a minute. I thought he wanted to talk. Instead he pulled down my Addis tear-away pants and proceeded to stare deep into my eyes as he breeded and seeded me real quick. There wasn’t really time to cleanup when he was finished, so I just pulled my pants back up and went back outside with his cum still inside me. I giggled to myself for the rest of the BBQ.

Nonsense like this went on for a few months. At some point I realized he was having sex with other men so at our next rendezvous I asked him to wear a condom, but he refused. I ended up letting him fuck me anyway, but vowed it would be the last time.

Over the course of our initial friendship I took a liking to Primero’s roommate. Segundo (also straight identified) was much more jovial, closer to my age and much more my speed. He was really athletic and had an amazing body. I would go over to hang and try not to stare at his chest as he lifted weights in the backyard.

When it became clear I wasn’t going to let him fuck me again Primero arranged to give me what he knew I wanted. He orchestrated a date for Segundo and I, the first time I hung out with him without Primero. We had sex at my house and it was everything I hoped for and more. To this day he had one of the prettiest penises I’ve ever had in my body.

Unfortunately, this didn’t change my mind about having unprotected sex with Primero, in fact it made the situation worse. Segundo didn’t have a problem with condoms and I found him more attractive overall. This angered Primero immensely.

I was too messy to take it seriously at the time, but it’s important to note Primero was a consummate alcoholic. It wasn’t uncommon for him to drink an entire bottle of Bacardi by himself in one sitting (and chase it with a few coronas). I was always fascinated that such a small body could hold so much alcohol. But he could always walk without aid and never threw up, so I just assumed his tolerance was higher than mine and didn’t let it bother me.

On that fateful night, they invited me over to hang. Although it was the middle of the week, it wasn’t too late, around 10pm. I decided to drive over and chill for a while. I honestly didn’t expect anything to happen.

They were both trashed when I arrived. At some point Primero suggested we all mess around, which surprised me. The DL bible clearly states two straight identified men can’t penetrate the gay boy at the same time without breaking the fourth wall.

I was still not budging on the condom issue, so I suggested I give them both head. An excited Segundo quickly took off his shorts but Primero left the room without saying anything.

“Where is he going?” I asked.

Segundo shrugged and pushed my head back down on his dick. A few minutes went by and I hear the door open again. Maybe Primero went to go wash his balls? I was unfazed and continued with Segundo without turning around.

I was now on the bed on my stomach. Primero came back and started messing with my pants. Half a cheek was exposed before I swatted his hand and motioned for him to come up front and lay next to Segundo.

But he continued on my pants. “Stop,” I said and swatted him again. He persisted. Annoyed and angry, I finally turned around.

“What the hell are you doing?”

He lunged at me and we were now hand in hand. Ironically, I was laughing. I thought he wanted to play wrestle (which wasn’t uncommon), but unfortunately this time was different. Next would be one of the scariest things I have ever seen.

I looked deep into his eyes and called out his name. Nothing. I called his name again and he continued to struggle with me. It became clear Primero wasn’t there. The man I loved and allowed into my body numerous times before was nowhere to be found. It was like he was on autopilot. It was at that point the gravity of the situation set it. Primero was determined to penetrate me with or without my permission. I was about to be raped.

That’s when I panicked. While still struggling to fight off Primero, I turned to face Segundo, who was now frozen in the corner of the bed. I think he wasn’t sure whether to help me or Primero.

My next impulse was to scream but I didn’t want to alert the family of three that lived in the room on the other side of the hallway. I silently struggled with Primero for a bit more before he lost his balance, fell on the bed and I broke free. I ran out the room (and the house) as quickly as I could and retreated to my car without looking back.

My car was parked around the corner and I stayed in it for a good while. I was in shock; my body hadn’t been this hot since I had a gun randomly pulled out on me walking home from work years prior. I eventually went home, but didn’t get too much sleep that night.

The days that followed I kept getting drunk dialed late at night by the boys. It wasn’t uncommon to get over five calls a night when Primero was drunk. I had my own landline in my room, but the answering machine was so loud I eventually had to unplug the entire phone so my mother (who slept in the adjacent room) didn’t hear these crazy messages Primero was leaving:

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I was stunned. Did he not remember anything that happened that night? Did Segundo not explain the state of events when he emerged from his blackout?

If you ask my friends, many will say I have a habit of ignoring people. I respectfully disagree. I have no problem reestablishing boundaries (without debriefing the other party) if I feel like I have been disrespected/violated in any way. Needless to say I still didn’t call those fools back and the messages got crazier (and angrier):

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I got that bomb ass, make you wanna leave psycho-stalker messages on voicemail.

Ironically, that’ll probably go down as one of the most romantic things a man has ever said to me. Listen to the urgency in his voice. He needs ME. While I still don’t understand that whole “women go back to their abuser on average of seven times” statistic, there was an endearing quality to the messages in a sick and twisted sort of way. The calls began to subside and the messages eventually got more melancholy in tone.

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Everyone who knows this story would always assume the incident fucked me up for life. It did, but not in the way most people think.

I was physically and emotionally fine in about a week. Honestly. But reflecting on the situation the weeks after the incident gave me something worse: awareness of my male privilege.

If I were female, the likelihood is Primero would’ve succeeded that night. Hell, Segundo might have even helped him. My height and weight made it virtually impossible for Primero to rape me plastered with no help. If I were his girlfriend, I’m not sure I would’ve made it out of that room alive.

I finally understood the potential risks my sisters and female friends dealt with in their (sex) lives. Most importantly how vastly different (physical) relations of power were in heterosexual relationships. It was that night I first realized the benefits my body could give me.

And I haven’t been the same ever since.

Trouble in Paradise

“I want your warm but it’ll only make me colder when it’s over. So I can’t tonight baby.”
– Fiona Apple: Love Ridden

I only do drugs when I’m trying to have sex with a guy.

It’s how its always been. DARE worked for me (just say no kids!), and I’d rather spend my hard earned money on electronics than nickel bags.

The first time I smoked weed was with a coworker. Oh he was beautiful. He would’ve gotten down too, but I was too young and inexperienced to seduce him and I think he was hesitant cause he was really good friends with my sister.

Ecstasy gave me a really bad headache. I think it was laced with something. Never again.

I’ve tried it all (at least once). But nothing seemed to live up to the hype…except cocaine. Cocaine is one hell of a drug. You feel all tingly, like you can conquer the world. So when he sat down and smiled I knew I was in trouble.

I was back down at the beach to see my last sunset in Waikiki. There’s this little walkway called “The Wall” where the skateboarders hang and the kids boogieboard. I sat down and looked around. He instantly caught my eye. A hint of crack led down to his board shorts; pelon, brown skin, just the right amount of muscle. He turned around for a second then continues to the end of the stroll with his friend. I continue watching the sunset.

I’m checking out the shots on my iPhone when he returns. He sits down and starts talking before I even know what’s going on.

“What’s up man, how are you doing?” (His smile could melt a tiki torch…sigh)
“I’m good man, enjoying my vacation. How are you doing tonight?”

He explains he has some issues: he just got out of jail and he thinks his girlfriend is cheating on him.

The first rule of trade (especially when you don’t have backup) is to find out what they’ve ever been locked up for so you know what the potential is for the night to get violent. He was in for unpaid skateboarding tickets (LMAO). At this point I know God is testing me.

We talk for another few minutes; he’s from Virginia, but has been here for ten years. Every so often he stops to say hello to someone. He seems to know everybody. I give him my phone and he pulls up a video of him jumping off The Wall when he was 18. He chastises me for spelling “nigga” wrong.

“Where are you from?”
“New York.”
“You ain’t from New York!”
(I laugh) “Cause I use proper English?”

A little more interrogation and it’s clear I’m from Long Island and not Bedstuy. I refuse to apologize for having a backyard growing up, but he’s proud of himself for being so insightful. I’m trying not to stare at his exposed chest when he drops the first hint.

“I use to escort…”
“Yeah? For men or for women?”
“For men. They used to take me all around the world.”

This happens more often than I like to admit. People tell me sexual stories even before I have a chance to tell them what I do.

All men who aren’t really gay but have gay sex have what I like to call the “trophy client.” It’s that one time they got so much money for something so random it’s the story they always tell first because the pride in making easy money beats the shame in having sex with another man. Patriarchy at its best really. His smile radiates as he reminisces.

“This guy gave me $200 just to pee on him.”
“No way! $200 bucks?!” (Even if you’re not surprised you have to act all excited like when a boy learns to tie his shoe laces for the first time)
“Yeah man, just to pee on him…”

He pauses for a minute to acknowledge how much he’s enjoying this conversation.

“You remind me of my best friend back home man. He was gay, but he wouldn’t tell me. My uncle would always tell me growing up, ‘You know that boy gay right?’ But he would never tell me. When he finally did years later I was like ‘Tell me something I don’t know man! I knew that already.’ He was afraid we wouldn’t be boys no more. Isn’t that crazy? I loved him man, I didn’t care. He would always help me out…”

“He give you advice, help you with your girlfriend?”
“Yeah man, all that stuff.” He smiles again, transported back to simpler times.

I, however wanted to cry. Ironically, I had just gotten the same speech the day before. In undergrad, I inadvertently became really close to this Hawaiian exchange student; really butch dude, MMA fighter, the masculine of the masculine.

We spent a year doing everything together, but right at the end he stopped talking to me when he accidently found me in bed with another man. No gay bashing, no “faggot this, faggot that,” he just stopped talking to me. I always knew he didn’t personally have a problem with homosexuality, but all these years with no closure and the damage was already done. It took eight years on this random vacation to get an apology.

I’m convinced most straight-identified men don’t have openly gay friends because they don’t know how to. We only teach men how to fuck and fight in this country, nothing in between. I digress.

Little does redbone know he reminds me of someone too. Trouble, this guy I met when I worked at that site (absolutely NSFW). I was smitten, we would flirt incessantly, but I couldn’t bring myself to take the plunge because I knew I couldn’t keep him. These kind of guys you have for while, but you don’t keep. That’s why I call them trouble. Only this time, it was trouble in paradise.

“You wanna have some fun tonight? Let’s go.”
He gets up and starts walking.
“Where?!”
I’ve seen this movie, I know how it ends, but I’m not ready to say goodbye just yet. I follow him to the street. He puts his hands around my waist. I secretly melt inside.

“Let’s do a little coke man. Loosen me up and we’ll have a good time.”
“Na man I’m good.”
“Well, do you mind if I do some?”
“Na, do you man.”

Two things I don’t pay for any more: cocaine and abortions. But I don’t mind supporting other people in these ventures when it’s not my money.

We walk back down the stroll and pickup a lackey along the way. There’s always a lackey. White guy from Chicago. He’s only been in Hawaii for a month.

Trouble leans in to sweeten the deal. “He’s down too if you want man.”

As I contemplate my options I see lackey hand Trouble a pill. They argue over what it is. I know this can’t go anywhere good.

Truth is I had been looking for Trouble all week. There’s not really a gay scene here in Honolulu; the bars are smaller than my apartment and filled with random breeder tourists. Grindr and the other sites proved unhelpful. I was just looking to get to know someone and chill. Be careful what you wish for.

No more burn, but I did have a bottle of wine and one more night in paradise. Ten years ago I would’ve gotten him his drugs, invited them back to my timeshare and fun would be had indeed. He’d do a line off my belly, we’d fuck for hours…I’d look deep in his eyes as he came inside me. I could taste the cum on my tongue just thinking about it.

But truth is that Tony no longer exists (for various reasons). So when I saw Lackey duck into an ABC store and Trouble hitting on the Japanese girls I slipped into the crowd and made my exit.

I panicked for a second and almost went back. When did I get so boring? What’s the worse that could happen?

Then I remembered that drug-resistant gonorrhea that’s floating around Japan. Oh well.

At least I got a good picture of the sunset.

lastsunset.JPG

Keep On Going

rip love.jpg

 

I needed answers. So I decided to go back to the beginning. Back to where it all began.

The profile read:

Good looking, masculine bottom looking for tops who know what they’re doing. Men of color especially. You will not be disappointed.

The headline read:

Good sex, NO strings attached.

He opened his pics, as requested. I didn’t expect him to be so cute.
“Sexy. What you looking to get into?”

“In town for a few days. Looking for a good fuck bro.”

If I told you I loved you, would it make any difference?
If you told me or if I believed you?
Duplicity

I made my list and it was more unanswered questions than pro/con:

If you knew you weren’t ready for a relationship, why did we do this?
I don’t want to date you on your terms.
If you want to be friends with someone, don’t date them.
I can understand seeing relationships as structurally unsafe, but at least I was willing to have the conversation.
There’s never a good time.

What’s love got to do with it?
At the end of the day: nothing. Ultimately I let my ego get in the way. As with the situation with my friends, I had no one to blame but myself.

Funny enough, there was some foreshadowing I didn’t even realize until the other day. I had completely disregarded this year’s Rules of Engagement as predicted. Sex does change everything. The best relationships last because the individuals put the unit above themselves.

You should however, make sure there’s a relationship before you handle yourself in that fashion. 🙂

We spoke. Actually it was more like awkward silence with a few statements in between.

“I don’t think this is gonna work out, but whatever we have…this thing between us, you know it’s bigger than us right?”

It’s hard to end things when you feel such a visceral connection to a person…when you can look into the sky and communicate. But love is not a spectator sport. The most important thing you can give someone is a chance and that was the one thing I didn’t have.

You’ve been telling me you don’t want a relationship every day for weeks now and I’ve been ignoring you…’cause you’re different from any man I’ve ever known. So that’s my fault, I should’ve walked away a long time ago. I can blame you for many things, but a lack of clarity is not one of them.
Grey’s Anatomy – Love, Loss and Legacy (adapted)

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Iyanla said on one of the Lifeclass webcasts all emotions can be reduced to either love or fear. That kind of makes sense to me.

All the anger, all the sadness. It’s all fear. Fear I’ll end up alone. Or worse, I’ll have to reduce my standards. I saw an opportunity, took a year to execute a plan but there was still push-back. But that’s life, and I’m grateful for the lesson(s).

The struggle continues.

I love you. But right now, I’m done with you.
Private Practice – …To Change the Things I Can

Wishful Thinking

I realize that I’m asking you for everything, but I feel like if I don’t ask for what I want then what’s the point?
Private Practice – What We Have Here…

I asked him to be my boyfriend.
He said he didn’t want one.

I suppose in hindsight I could’ve seen this coming. But truth is, this wasn’t about “having a boyfriend.”

A lot’s happened in the last year. I got a promotion/raise at work (in this economy!), I found my dream apartment…I was willing my life to where I’ve been trying to go for the last decade and it felt amazing. Why couldn’t my love life be next?

And I was so confident about this one. I did my astrological homework, anticipated as many problems as I could and was prepared with solutions. But it eventually became clear I was the only one working on this relationship. As they used to say on Passions, secrets always come out in the end.

I think maybe when people say they need more time it means they’re not committed. And that doesn’t really work for me any more. So I need to know: are you in or are you out?
Private Practice – A Step Too Far

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If you’ve been taking Oprah’s Lifeclass you know the very important lesson I was ignoring: When People Show You Who They Are, Believe Them. My list wasn’t as dramatic as the one above, but close enough that it was clear I wasn’t operating in reality.

Funny this is, when I published that post, my phone immediately blew up. Who is this guy? What’s so special about him? What the hell happened at that conference? My friends, some of whom I’ve known for years had never “seen” that side of me. They wanted to know everything.

And I don’t regret writing that piece. It’s me at my best, my most optimistic and my most vulnerable.

It’s also the Tony that gets chewed up and spit out every time he comes out to play.

As Oprah said in tonight’s Lifeclass, I didn’t see what was going on because I didn’t want to see it. But when I allowed myself to take the whole thing in and see what was right in front of me the entire time, I had to finally take responsibility.

Responsibility not only for the energy I was bringing into the relationship, but the energy I was allowing him to bring into my space.

Ambivalence and mixed messages had sucked up a year of my life. It was time I finally did something about it.

Final Hour

If you’re going to break up with someone you need to tell them face to face and you need to tell them why. You need to give them closure. I think the worse thing you could ever do to someone is not give them closure.
Joey Diamond – Breakups

I met a man once. Brown skin, a naughty smile that lit up a room. There was an instant connection. He was only in town for a few weeks, but I used what time I had to get to know him. On his final night, we were supposed to have a going away dinner. I called to confirm:

“I’m kind of ambivalent to dinner.”
There was a good thirty seconds of awkward silence.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know what that means.”

In my head I was thinking “Be excited for dinner. Say I don’t want to do this. Just have a reaction! Ambivalent? What the fuck does that mean?”

After all, we had spent considerable time together, the least we could do was have a last supper; even if he didn’t think this was worth pursuing once he left town. Needless to say we didn’t have dinner that night.

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As you can see, I don’t go through the five stages of grief evenly. It’s usually very little denial, a period of sadness and anger. Lots of anger.

The worse thing you can feel in a relationship is disrespected. A year later, that’s exactly how I felt.

You know what the final straw was? I went to mail his birthday card and realized I didn’t have his home address; only his work. I kind of had a core meltdown. What kind of a man will let you into his body, but won’t tell you where he lives?

Actually, tons of people. People not looking for anything serious. I had answered my own question.

And there it was; the brutally honest truth right before my eyes.

Reflecting on both cases, I think the worse part is the unrealized potential. It’s not like I don’t meet great guys, I meet great guys all the time. But the timing is never right.

They’re either trying to restart their careers.
Or fending off family trying to arrange their marriage (to a woman!).
Or they’ve just been alone for so long that’s what feels safe.

And I get it, I was operating from a deficit once too. But can someone throw me a bone here? I just feel like people don’t even put in effort these days.

Especially when it comes to interracial dating. The differences that initially intrigues you becomes the “reasons” why that person can’t be fully integrated into your life. When you pit potential partner against culture, family and community win most of the time.

At some point you have to swallow your pride and realize you wanted it more than he did.

Emotional Rollercoaster

Denial
He really is a busy man. He’ll make time…eventually.

Bargaining
I don’t bargain, lol. That question about moving cities was to incite conversation/understanding.

And I’m not going to apologize for liking dinner sans eyeballs.

Depression

Why are you so worried about cumming?

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Anger
Those really are my friends, I didn’t hire them. Don’t get frustrated with me because it felt so right.

Just because I don’t “know” Captain Cockblock doesn’t mean I’m wrong about the situation.

You spend all your time helping others because you don’t want to deal with your own shit.

Honestly, the sex could’ve been better. Dirtier? I take full responsibility for that. I’ve internalized this gay Madonna-whore thing which clearly became an obstacle. How ’bout next conference we just get a bunch of black guys with big dicks and we can have a good old fashioned gangbang; cause that’s what we’re good for right? You’d probably be a lot happier. And I’d probably be more comfortable.

I didn’t want you to call anymore because every time I hear your voice all I think is “YOU LIE.” (whether to yourself or to me)

You don’t deserve me.

Acceptance
Different man, same selfish kind of love.

In the end, you’re breaking your own heart.

What is Love?

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The name of the show is “Perception” and we’re all a part of the cast. Do you know your lines?
Gary – Because It’s Time 4 One

“OMG, he’s in love with you!”

He started to get agitated. I could tell by the look on his face he regretted it even came up in conversation.

“Don’t make assumptions. You don’t even know him.”

I just found out the man I was courting had a cuddle buddy. At our first meal out no less! But this wasn’t just some random person; it was his “best friend.”

This wasn’t the first time I encountered this misleading label phenomenon with a gay-identified man. When I moved to San Francisco and was getting to know The Puerto Rican in the program we would talk about the East Coast and the people in our lives. His “best friend” was the first person he mentioned and after weeks of long conversations it was clear to me he had deeper feelings for this man besides friendship.

Back at dinner, I wasn’t threatened, not even upset; just confused. I was assured nothing sexual ever went on between the two of them, but it still didn’t make any sense to me. If you were sharing your bed with this man, having physical intimacy every night, how was anyone new (read: me) supposed to enter the picture?

It’s like when you see a ten year old in a stroller.
Or when a thirty year old still lives with his parents.

There could be a perfectly good explanation for both scenarios, but it just looks bad.

I know tons of gay identified men with unnecessarily complicated relationships like this. I call this kind of friend Captain Cockblock. Like any good Captain, his job is to steer the ship (the man in the middle) in the direction he sees fit. Taking this analogy farther, if you represent land (a new frontier if you will) Captain Cockblock will do anything he can to keep the ship away from you. Because once the ship reaches land, his journey is over.

Beware, as he has many tools in his arsenal:

Captain Cockblock is that bastard who’s listed as “In a Relationship” with your future husband even though they’re “just friends.”

Captain Cockblock “was here first.” They have “history.”

Captain Cockblock will smear your name like it’s a presidential campaign.

Captain Cockblock keeps a record of all your transgressions and waits until the perfect moment to remind your future husband what a “horrible person” you are.

Captain Cockblock keeps feeding everyone drinks so he can better control the situation.

Captain Cockblock is always available, especially when you aren’t.

Captain Cockblock practices his helpless puppy dog face in the mirror every night before he goes to bed.

These kinds of relationships have larger implication as well. If a large chunk of gay identified men have these splintered/compartmentalized relationships, what does a successful relationship look like? If you’re cuddling with your “best friend” what is reserved for your “boyfriend/partner?”

I’ve been doing this kind of work for about ten years now. I’ve seen it all, heard it all. I don’t expect there to be one relationship template that works for everyone. But was the traditional monogamous relationship within grasp?

Having a map is essential to getting to your destination. So I ask you:

What is love?

“People like you ya know…but I found you first.”
Single White Female